'Interim' IT boss frowned upon amid NHS hack

The non-permanent work status of the boss of a NHS IT body is being implied as a vulnerability which may have indirectly failed to stop Friday’s mass ransomware attack on hospitals.

Rob Shaw, put in charge of NHS Digital on April 1st, has the title of “interim” chief executive, meaning the body is “operating without a permanent leader,” scorned The Sunday Times.

The newspaper’s hint that a CEO who is temporary is inferior to one who is permanent reflects the role’s NHS staffing notice, which announced the resignation of Shaw’s predecessor Andy Williams.

Published late last year, the NHS Digital notice states that Shaw -- the current boss -- would only be appointed “in the event of the recruitment of the right successor [to Williams] taking longer.”

The notice, which points out that Williams was a permanent CEO, indicates that sourcing a full-time replacement for Williams before he departed the organisation would be preferable.

However, Shaw took over because such a permanent replacement could not be found.

Since then, the chief technology officer at the Home Office, Sarah Wilkson, has been given the job of NHS Digital CEO -- on a full-time basis, albeit reportedly only from this summer.

On the ContractorUK Forum, there is another sign that Friday’s ransomware attack -- which affected a reported 70,000 NHS devices -- is throwing light on the health service’s IT hiring activities.

“I did not get the gig because I did ‘not have enough NHS Trust engagement experience’,” a commercial contract IT worker said, recalling a rejection. “They cannot comprehend that someone from the private sector would be able to understand their lingo and processes”.  

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May 15, 2017